[A] day before their biggest pre-season basketball game, former Rams Athlete of the Year, Jahmal Jones, set the record straight as to what constitutes a win for his side.
“I think we measure a win by just doing those things that we take pride in, like rebounding, defensive rotations and schemes that we plan, and just getting good shots. I guess sometimes it’s not always about the scoreboard, we just have to do all the little things to compete. That’s a win for us.”
Ivan Joseph, outlined what a win for the Ryerson community is:
“If the bowl is three-quarters full, it’s a win. If we’ve got a loud student section, it’s a win. If people come out of this experience and say, ‘Wow, we gotta get back! It was way better than I thought!” then it’s a win,” said the Ryerson Athletics program director.
On Saturday night the scoreboard certainly did not show a victory, as the Rams were defeated 88-80 on the Mattamy Home Ice – converted-court, against the NCAA Division I Wake Forest Deacon Demons.
However, their performance certainly showed that it was a win- if not for the team in the short-term, than certainly in the long-term. And the student section, large in size and loud in volume, proved it was a win for everyone involved.
At least Bryan Colangelo thought so.
“It’s great for the university to hold such high talent and even for the local community to have a great facility that means something. It’s great to see the facility come to life the way it has,” said the Toronto Raptors General Manager, who was watching the game along with Raptors Head Coach, Dwayne Casey.
And it truly was.
A competitive Ryerson Rams team played a full 48 minutes against an NCAA powerhouse, not quitting or letting down. A sign of which was how, trailing 86-80 with 2.2 seconds left, the Rams still chose to foul. It was as if to say, no matter how much we’re trailing by, we’ll try to win.
The fans, like the players, had their heart in the matter. With 100 seconds left, Wake Forest, with possession, called a time out. The Rams were trailing by eight at the time. Perfectly good time to walk out with a stop in the action. Few left the building.
“I think it was an amazing event. I was happy I made it out to support the Rams and help spread the spirit of Blue and Gold,” said third-year Ryerson student on-hand, Mitch Reiss. “The energy in the building was electric and everyone was making noise.”
A near sell-out crowd was in attendance and that is truly outstanding. 2542 fans filled up the seats, of which 335 were students. That means that not only were students on-hand but the entire Ryerson community was there too.
“This is what this event was meant to be. We wanted an event that excited the Ryerson community and the basketball community. And that’s exactly what happened,” said Associate Athletic Director Stephanie White. “It’s definitely a win.”
If there’s a silver lining in the final box-score, it’s that if this were a 24-minute game the Rams would be the victor, as they lead by two going into their lockers at the end of the first-half.
And they lost by just 8 against an NCAA Division I foe. They lost by a few baskets to a team who jumpstarted the young careers of Tim Duncan, Chris Paul, and Mugsy Bogues and went 13-18 last year in the tough Atlantic Coast Conference.
Flashes of Rams brilliance were evident from the smooth-shooting Aaron Best and the quick-footed Jones. The ‘Dynamic Duo’ combined for 45 points on 47 per cent shooting and were all over the score sheet in every significant category.
It was the third quarter that did the Rams in. Wake Forest went on an 11-0 run and out-scored Ryerson by 16 overall to take total control of the game. But the Rams battled back to make it harder than it should have been for the perennial March Madness contenders.
Rookie Ram Yannick Walcott called it “a good fight against D1 competition,” and said that the Rams “played hard and physical.”
Jones called his team’s performance “a step in the right direction,” and gave a rundown of what the Rams did well.
“I thought we rebounded pretty well, we shot the ball alright, and our defensive rotations weren’t bad, we were actually pretty good on defense.”
Based on his own assessment the day before, Jones’ Rams went a perfect three for three.
The Rams out-offensive-rebounded the Demon Deacons, out-blocked them, and bested them from three-point land.
If all the little things make the difference then Roy Rana certainly thought this game was a win too.
“We put a good rhythm to it. We were tighter with the ball. We looked comfortable down the stretch. We got our hands high on close-outs. We were able to shoot the open jay. And we got back hard on defense,” said the Rams men’s basketball head coach. “I’m happy with the effort. We certainly played hard.”
It was the ninth time in the last four years the Rams played an NCAA opponent, starting with Duquesne in 2007. And although most box scores haven’t been kept, there is one thing that distinguishes this game from the rest. “This game against Wake Forest was the closest,” Ryerson sports and information guru Jim McLarty verified.
And that’s something to be proud of.
When asked if the game, based on his earlier definition, befitted a win for the entire university Joseph glanced skyward, with a proud, altruistic smile.
“Certainly. Without a doubt.”